Citigroup Inc granted more than 18 million stock options to 15 senior executives, an award that could handsomely increase their compensation if the slowly recovering bank's share price rises.

The third-largest U.S. bank, which took $45 billion in U.S. bailout funds during the financial crisis, disclosed the options in regulatory filings on Wednesday.

Citigroup, which shed the stigma of partial government ownership in December, awarded the most options to Chief Operating Officer John Havens and Americas Consumer Banking CEO Manuel Medina-Mora. They received 2 million options each, while Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach was awarded 1.5 million options.

The options vest in three equal annual installments beginning next February 14, at an exercise price of $4.91. They expire in 2017.

Citigroup's share price fell roughly 98 percent from its peak during the financial crisis. Although it has quintupled from its March 2009 low, it still trades below $5 per share. It closed down less than 1 percent at $4.90 on Wednesday.

In Wednesday's filings, the bank did not disclose any new options for Chief Executive Vikram Pandit.

But last month, its board raised his base salary to $1.75 million from the $1 he had been taking.

Citigroup last year reported its first full-year profit since 2007.

(Reporting by Maria Aspan and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)